Continuity and Bluetooth problems on the Apple Mac, iPhone and iPad

Continuity is the name Apple gives to a whole bunch of useful features that are used by Macs, iPhones and iPads. When it works, the features are brilliant, but the trouble is it sometimes doesn’t.

Continuity features consist of:

Handoff: This enables you to start a task on one device (Mac, iPhone, iPad) and continue on another. For example, you could start writing an email on your iPhone and continue on your Mac.

Universal Clipboard: The clipboard used to be limited to the device it was being used on, but now you can copy something on one device (Mac, iPhone, iPad) and paste it on another.

Cellular Calls: You can take calls on any device, so you could make a phone call from your Mac.

SMS and MMS: Send text messages and multimedia messages from your Mac through your iPhone, even if your phone isn’t next to you.

Instant Hotspot: Turn your phone into a Wi-Fi hotspot so you can access the internet on your Mac using the phone’s data plan.

Auto Unlock: Your Mac is automatically unlocked using your Apple Watch.

Is your Mac too old for Continuity?

If these features do not work, it could be because one or more of your devices (Mac, iPhone or iPad) are not compatible. If your computer and devices are recent models then they will be fine, but old Macs, iPhones and iPads are not supported. Got an old Mac? Forget it.

If your computer and devices are not old, but not new then they may or may not work. There is a list of features and system requirements at the Apple support website.

Unfortunately, the list does not appear to be accurate and although it says MacBook Pro, Air, mini and iMac from as far back as 2012 will work, some don’t. To find out what year your Mac is, go to the Apple menu, About This Mac.

Bluetooth connection problems

The problem appears to be with Bluetooth and some people find that their Mac, iPhone or iPad cannot connect using Buetooth.

Open Bluetooth in System Preferences on the Mac and turn it on. Then turn on Bluetooth on the iPhone. You should see the iPhone on the Mac - it can take a few seconds to appear. If they have never been paired, there is an option to pair them. If they have already been paired, they should be OK, but double clicking the iPhone or iPad entry can reconnect them if not.

Connect the Apple Mac and iPhone using Bluetooth

The trouble is, sometimes they won’t connect. Nothing seems to connect my Mac, iPhone and iPad, but one solution some people have found is:

  1. Turn off Bluetooth on the iPhone
  2. Turn off Personal Hotspot
  3. Open Mac System Preferences, Bluetooth and delete the iPhone if it is listed
  4. Turn off Bluetooth on the Mac
  5. Turn on the iPhone Bluetooth
  6. Turn on the Mac Bluetooth
  7. Click the Pair button when the Mac detects the iPhone
  8. Turn on Personal Hotspot on the iPhone
  9. Click the Bluetooth icon on the Mac menu bar, select the iPhone and click Connect to Network

Turning on the Personal Hotspot feature on the iPhone works for some people, but what about an iPad with Wi-Fi? There is no Personal Hotspot feature.

I think the problem may be caused by different Bluetooth standards being used across Macs, iPhones and iPads over the years. This can mean that devices from different years can have different Bluetooth systems and be incompatible.

I've spent hours on this and nothing gets my Mac, iPhone and iPad to connect to each other. The method above may help some people though.



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